Mindfulness: 4 ways to find it at work

by | 19th February, 2014 | being present, thoughts on business

Last week I talked about why mindfulness is so important in the workplace. Well, talk is cheap (and easy!), it’s doing it that can be a challenge. Particularly when you are surrounded by people all day. I want to share with you four ideas that may help you achieve mindfulness at work, without requiring you to leave your desk to hug a tree… Mindfulness encompasses all types of strategies, and today I wanted to touch on the very first steps you can use to create some inner calm when stress is rising in a busy workplace. Try these tips, in this order:

1. Pump up the volume on your own inner voice.

mindfulness needs volume!We’re usually told to work on quieting our inner voice, particularly at work. However, if you want to achieve a state of inner peace in the office, you first have to recognise that there’s something disturbing it! The moment you notice an uncomfortable feeling; patience with others slipping away; a furrow in your brow; or a distraction from the task at hand – stop and turn up that inner dial. Let the irritation alert you that something is amiss. This is the very first step to resolving it and the sooner you acknowledge it, the sooner it can be addressed. Fires are always easier to extinguish when they are simply cinders.  I know this first hand. In the last year of owning Billie Goat, I would push any stress I felt to the back of my mind rather than acknowledge it. The fire (self imposed stress) inside raged so badly that my only means to control it was to physically exit the building and escape the stressful situation I would otherwise face.  I did this many times quite unexpectedlty amongst the people I worked with. I understand now that I would have coped much better if I had turned up the volume instead of trying to mute it.

2. Observe and remember.

Observe what is going on around you – take a moment to watch the space as if you are watching a movie, with you as the lead performer. If you can “get meta” and take a step outside of yourself to watch the situation that is triggering your discomfort you will be in a better position to choose the best way to manage the situation. It’s a lot like the third person video games my kids love to play, the minute the view is outside of the actual player, the direction of play becomes clearer.

Remember – everyone around you is making the absolute best decision for themselves at that particular point in time. Even if you disagree or feel uncomfortable as a result. To feel anger, resentment, embarrassment, or distress as a result of the situation is to give your personal power away. You can choose your response and choose how you will respond to the situation around you.

3. Take a moment or 10.

When I started my training career, the lift in the office building where I worked was my closest friend. Whenever I needed time out, I simply took a ride in the lift. It gave me a 10 second escape as I travelled from the third floor down to ground level. If I was lucky I would travel alone and this meant I could really let my hair down and regroup. Taking a moment or 10 is usually enough to decide on a calm way forward without actually being missed.

Look for a stairwell, lift, empty desk, coffee machine, drink fountain…just someplace where you can walk to and back without it being an unusual or a noticeable time out. It’s purely an excuse where you have a chance to take some deep calming breaths, regroup and move forward. Close your eyes, take a very deep breath through your nose, exhale through your mouth. Expand your chest and stomach when you are inhaling, and exhale all of it. If you can find somewhere inconspicuous that’s helpful. Sometimes inquiring others can squash any chance to take a moment because you have to explain yourself!

4. Remember, you always have a choice, always.

When you are present to your own thoughts and feelings, and you have had a chance to view the situation from a meta perspective, you can exercise choice to deal with them. Couple this with the faith that you will (as do others!) make the best choice possible at any given time. Life can feel a lot calmer when there’s no need for second guessing. Trusting the process is much less stressful!

choice is important to mindfulnessIt’s not always easy to find time for calm at work, but some creative thinking can often provide a solution.Certainly, being able to stay present to the situation provides you with greater freedom to control it. Let me know if these tips work for you.  xxx